After deliberate consideration because of the number of people involved and the miles that separated us , the Mahabaleshwar trip was finalized. It involved getting over many hurdles like the different intern schedules (some had a 5 day week some had 6 ) , some of the people being incommunicado for some reasons and the natural desires of people to not agree with others. The three of us(me , niraj and gaurav) came back early on friday(27th) from 'the plant' and got on the Surat BDTS express on which we had booked our tickets in the 2S class for a mere Rs.100. The train ride was not that smooth as we had earlier thought , and decided that it was better to travel while standing as the seats which we got were those which faced one more 3 seater and there was no comfortable way to sit. So we stood near the door for most of our 4.5 hour journey which was interspersed with many 'new' items which were being sold by the vendors. Like one month 'old' magazines at half the price, mint leaves being sold in a bundle etc. The scenes of boys playing games like cricket or riding a bicycle after a day's work in the little 'green' villages made the trip ever so wonderful.
We reached 'Mumbai' at 8.30pm and boy was it terrible. We had to get to our friends from our hostel who were staying at IITBombay , and the autowallas and taxis were there to thug us. Somehow we managed to get an auto from Bandra to Powai for Rs.120 (i am sure it should be even lower). After somehow managing to get past the awful traffic especially near IITB and the infamous potholes we reached there. This was my first time there and the city didn't leave a good impression on me. We met our friends after a long time and usual bakaiti started. We also got the information that instead of going through a packaged tour which would have cost us Rs.1300(including stay,food and everything), we were hiring a taxi costing Rs.2000 per day. Though I always prefer traveling without any plans, when with friends, it sounded dearer but till that time there was no other way and the taxi was hired to take us the next day from IITB.
We spent the night in IITB campus and the only thing worth mentioning there is the zillions of mosquitoes and Hostel 12-13.
The hostel 12-13 are something you really have to see it to believe. Everything from the skywalk which includes common room and indoor games, to the hostel mess which is in basement but is in fact on ground floor(!) ..the architecture is amazing. There should be riots to get into that hostel with its superb night canteen.
We started at 7 in the morning and took the Pune Expressway. The fear of the Qualis being uncomfortable for 8 passengers was gone as we sat quite peacefully(at least i did). The journey was remarkable largely due of the wide roads and the amazing scenery it forms because of various tunnels and places like Lonavla too in between. Though the toll taxes really take a toll on you , on these wonderful roads, which are to an extent devoid of large traffic.
At the insistance of our taxi driver who was a Ganpati devout, we stopped at Vai , which we were being told is one the Ashtavinayak mandir. The mandir looked a little bit like Charanpur of Swades to me, or may all old mandirs are like this , as i have not seen many.
From there we were on a route where Panchgani is before Mahabaleshwar(i was thinking the other way round). So, the sceneries were just getting better and better. We were 'taxed' at Rs. 10 per person and Rs.30 for taxi for entering Panchgani, which was ridiculous in every way. Nevertheless the first thing we saw was Harrison Folly, named after certain Mr. Harrison who built a house there which flew due to winds. But i cant say the Englishman was at fault for building a house there , as the view was breathtaking to say the least. (There was also horse riding for 'kids' where a guy charged Rs.60 for letting you ride it for like 45sec).
From there we stopped at a place to get tea but instead went down a path where we were hearing sounds of water in hope a water fall, but we didnt find it , though there was a picturesque scene of a small bridge passing over a clear stream of water. We dipped our feet in it, but left as we had to get to our hotel and also have our lunch.
We reached Mahabaleshwar and it was raining there. And instead of being foggy it was cloudy, which means what could be mistaken as fog were in fact clouds and they were enveloping all the city. The cover was as thick as a Delhi fog in winters. After some difficulties we checked in our hotel (Hotel Varsha). The rooms were great at Rs. 700 and we had lunch there. Without wasting any time we set out to see all there was to see in Mahabaleshwar that day.
The first place was Lake Venna. It was cloudy, windy and rainy ..so the scene was wonderful.
The next place that we went to were involved a large number of 'points' and it was terrific. There was Kates Point, Needle Hole Point ,Echo Point and Elephant Point, all located very close to each other , the last one being the best of them all.( if you need some info about these find it on http://www.travelpaisa.com/mumbai-hillstations/mahabaleshwar.html )
The other 'points' were completely covered in clouds and our efforts to see them ended in vain. But nevertheless we were quite happy with all that we did in the day and in some ways at our limit in the number of beautiful places that we could see in a day.